The second set again started with a small Huskies scoring run that put the Wildcats in an early deficit. As expected, the Wildcats began to erase the Huskies’ lead and eventually jumped out to a …
The second set again started with a small Huskies scoring run that put the Wildcats in an early deficit. As expected, the Wildcats began to erase the Huskies’ lead and eventually jumped out to a lead of their own. At one point, Kealy’s squad was up 17-9 and in complete control of the match. Eau Claire North made an effort to mount a comeback, but it fell short and River Falls took a 2-0 lead in the series after the 25-19 second set victory.
The third set was another convincing River Falls victory. After jumping out to a 19-6 lead in the third set, Eau Claire North had to take a timeout to stop the dynamic River Falls offense. The timeout did little to change the momentum of the game, as the Wildcats ran away with the third set 25-16. The third set victory meant it was another sweep for the Wildcats. It was also the 67th straight home win for River Falls. After the game, coach Kealy talked about deciding when to play reserves in a series that might not be evenly matched.
“I love being able to get young kids in these matches,” Kealy said. “If I leave my starting unit in, that first set ends up 25-14, the second set would have been smoother and the third set would have been even better, but that’s just not the right way to do it.”
Getting younger players into varsity games is one of the reasons that Kealy has had such significant success with her volleyball program over the years. Two upperclassmen that were once young, inexperienced players getting occasional varsity minutes are Brianna Brathol and Dani Lien. Kealy spoke about what they mean not only for the rest of this season but also for her program’s success as a whole.
“They’re so important for us because they have to pass for us, play defense, have to hit, block and serve, they do everything for us,” Kealy said. “We rely heavily on our outside to do everything.”
With the win, River Falls remains in first place in the Big Rivers Conference standings, one game ahead of Chippewa Falls who is currently 4-0 in conference play.
“They will be undefeated coming into our conference match next week,” Kealy said. “We already beat them once (this season). We’re both going to come into that game undefeated and this place (RFHS) will be rocking. We played them in the regional finals last year and that was the best match of the whole round.”
The game is expected to be the most competitive of the entire Big Rivers Conference schedule. Earlier this season on Saturday, Aug. 28, the Wildcats swept Chippewa Falls by winning two consecutive sets at the UW-Stout Invitational. If the match on Thursday, Oct. 14, goes anything like the previous match, River Falls will be well on its way to a fifth conference championship in the last six years.